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There is a huge variety of hops, each with its distinctive character, aroma and flavour.

Using different combinations of hops gives the home brewer the freedom to let their imagination go wild.

Hops are usually infused into the brewing process in much the same way as you would brew tea.

The hops are usually added in 3 stages to the boiling wort to impair different qualities to the beer.

Stage 1 For bitterness

Stage 2 For flavour

Stage 3 For aroma

The bittering strength of the hops is measured by the Alpha acid content, represented in a percentage. The higher the rate, the stronger the hops.

The internationally recognised standard for measuring bitterness in beer is the European Bittering Unit (EBU).

Most beers fall between EBU 25 and EBU 65

The following is a guide to typical EBU levels for the more popular beer styles.

Mild, Brown Ale, Sweet Stout, Wheat Beer, British and Munich type Lagers - EBU 15-25

Pilsner - EBU 28-40

Bitter, Pale Ale, Porter - EBU 30-50

Irish Stout, Imperial Stout, Barley Wine - EBU 4O-75.